Minor League Round-Up: 4/16/05

Two of the Oakland A's minor league affiliates won lopsided games and the two other A's affiliated dropped close contests on Saturday. Find out why Midland and Stockton are streaking in this edition of <i>Minor League Round-Up...</i>

Sacramento Loses Fourth Straight Game

After starting off the season 5-1, the Sacramento River Cats have hit the skids, losing four straight to drop their record to 5-5. The River Cats lost a close game on Saturday, falling to the Portland Beavers, 6-5. Reliever Tim Harikkala allowed only one run in three innings of work, but it was the decisive run, earning him the loss.

Starter Jim Serrano had a rough outing, allowing five runs in only three innings pitched. Four of the five runs came on homeruns, as Serrano allowed three homers on the day. The River Cats and the Beavers see-sawed back and forth most of the night. The Beavers got on board first with two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Sacramento responded with three runs in the top of the second, temporarily taking a 3-2 lead. Designated hitter Jack Cust tripled to drive in two runs in the second and he came around to score on an RBI groundout by third baseman Adam Morrissey.

Portland tied the game up at 3-3 when Ben Johnson hit a solo homerun off of Serrano in the bottom of the second. The Beavers would then break the tie with two runs in the bottom of the 4th on a Josh Barfield homerun.

The River Cats again rallied to tie the game, this time in the top of the 6th. With two outs and centerfielder Freddie Bynum on second base, first baseman Dan Johnson doubled to deep center, scoring Bynum. Leftfielder Shawn Garrett added another two-out hit, singling in Johnson from second to tie the game at 5-5.

The tie was short-lived, however, as Harikkala allowed three straight singles to start the 6th inning to plate what would be the game-winning run. River Cats reliever Billy Sylvester was outstanding in his two innings of work, striking out five of the eight batters he faced and giving Sacramento a chance to win the game late. However, it wasn't enough, as the Beavers' bullpen worked 3.1 shut-out innings, allowing only three hits to preserve the win. Sacramento will try to break their losing streak on Sunday against Portland.

Bondurant Pitches A Gem In Midland Win

The streaking Midland Rockhounds won their fifth straight game on Saturday behind the stellar pitching performance from starter Steven Bondurant. The left-hander went seven shut-out innings, limiting the San Antonio Missions to five hits and one walk over that span. Midland won the game, 7-0, and is now 7-2 on the season and in first place in their division.

The Rockhounds got all of the offense they would need in the bottom of the second inning, when Midland scored four runs. Catcher Jeremy Brown led off the inning with a walk and moved to third on leftfielder Andre Ethier's double. Brown scored on third baseman Lloyd Turner's RBI groundout, which moved Ethier to third. Centerfielder Steve Stanley walked and he and Ethier both came home on shortstop Andrew Beattie's three-run homer. Beattie leads the team with three homeruns on the season.

Rightfielder Matt Allegra was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the third inning and he scored on Brown's RBI double to up the Rockhounds' advantage to 5-0. Ethier tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the 8th inning on his second homerun of the season. Ethier was 3-4 on the day, raising his average to .433 on the season. Allegra scored twice despite not getting a hit. First baseman Brant Colamarino was held without a hit for the first time this season. The slugger is still hitting .444. He did reach base on a walk.

Reliever Brad Weis pitched the final two scoreless innings to finish of the Rockhounds' victory. Midland's pitching staff has been excellent this season, as they have posted a 3.33 team ERA through the first nine games of the season. The bullpen has been especially impressive, posting a 2.14 ERA over 33.6 innings pitched. Nick Brannon and Evan Fahrner have combined to toss 12.2 scoreless innings this season. Midland looks to complete the sweep and win their sixth straight game on Sunday.

Stockton's Offense Explodes For 21 Hits In 11-5 Win

Every Stockton Ports starter had at least one hit for the second straight game as the Ports pounded the Lancaster JetHawks, 11-5. Centerfielder Richie Robnett had four hits and scored three runs and first baseman Vasili Spanos had his second straight strong offensive game, collecting three hits and driving in two runs. Starter Trent Peterson picked up the win for the Ports, who upped their record to 5-4.

Stockton's scoring barrage began early, as the Ports posted seven runs in the first three innings. In the top of the first, Luke Appert began the game by reaching on a two-base throwing error by JetHawks' second baseman Steve Garrabrants. Robnett followed with a single, moving Appert to third. Spanos collected his first hit, driving in Appert and moving Robnett to third. Daric Barton walked to load the bases. However, the Ports were in danger of wasting the scoring opportunity when Francis Gomez and Danny Putnam were unable to bring a run across. Dustin Majewski saved the day with a two-out, two-run double and the Ports never looked back.

Stockton added a single run in the second on a Barton RBI single. The Ports chased starter Christopher Kinsey in the third when they tacked on three more runs on five hits. In total, the Ports posted three separate three-run frames and collected 21 hits on the night. The had five extra-base hits, including two doubles by Majewski and a triple by John McCurdy. Pitching with a large lead the entire game, the Ports pitching staff worked quickly, allowing eight hits and five runs in total. The Ports' bullpen trio of J.R. Pickens, Chris Shank and Justin Crowder worked 3.2 innings, allowing only one run and two hits. Stockton has now won three straight games and will look to complete the sweep of Lancaster on Sunday.

Kane County Drops A Tight One

The Kane County Cougars lost a well-pitched game against the Burlington Bees, 3-2, to drop their record to 4-5 on the season. Young starter Ryan Webb allowed three runs in 5.1 innings of work, but he was out-pitched by Bees' starter Kyle Crist. Shortstop Gregorio Petit paced a mostly silent Cougars' offense, as he hit his third homerun of the season, a solo shot in the third inning.

Kane County fell behind early, as Burlington posted one run in the second and two runs in the third. The Cougars' pitching staff would keep the Bees off the board the rest of the game, but Kane County failed to generate enough offense to make a complete comeback.

The Cougars' best chance to tie the game came in the top of the seventh inning. Down 3-1 to start the inning, rightfielder Kory Wayment led off with a single to center. He scored on a double by leftfielder Chalon Tietje, cutting the Burlington lead to 3-2. Catcher Travis Chapman followed Tietje's double with a walk, giving the Cougars a first and second, no out situation. However, Petit grounded into a fielder's choice, which erased the lead runner Tietje. Centerfielder Nick Blasi and third baseman Wes Long followed with ground outs of their own and the Cougars' best rally died. In the ninth, Tietje led-off with a single, but with one out, he was erased on a game-ending double-play off the bat of Petit. The Cougars will try to even their record on Sunday against Burlington.

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